“The Ultralight and super compact mat that offers warmth and comfort” - from mat packaging.
Mrs TentLife and I were going on a short camping trip to the Peak District (October) and we would be using our Coleman Cobra 3 tent. Mrs TentLife already had her sleeping arrangements sorted, and I just needed to get something for myself.
Because of my wife’s inoperable back condition, she had purchased herself an ExPed Synmat Mega 12LXW – Arguably the daddy of comfort, here is the review.
I didn’t need such a large mat (especially in thickness), as I am not in constant pain like my wife. However, because we were so happy with the quality of my wife’s Synmat, we were inclined to go for another sleep mat from the EXPED range.
We had already been in contact with our suppliers of EXPED range when we were researching a suitable sleep mat for my wife’s medical needs. We again spoke with them to pick their brains, and it was suggested that a Synmat UL7 M would be an ideal solution.
Synmat UL7 M, what does that mean?
UL stands for Ultra Light, the 7 is the thickness in cm, and the M is Medium. You can also get them in Small (S), Long Wide (LW) and Medium Wide (MW). So it's 7cm thick, 182cm long and just 52cm wide, making it ideal for any tent.
What can I say about the Synmat UL7M?
Well let’s start off by saying I had 2 very comfortable nights sleep whilst using this mat. I was using my Vango Cocoon 250 sleeping bag and it was the beginning of October, not the warmest of conditions, but I was nice and toasty. Even when my PJ’s exposed my back during the night (should have gone with the Elmo onesie, yes I do have one), I was not woken by the cold. It’s not all about the sleeping bag - A decent sleep mat WILL contribute greatly to your nighttime warmth and comfort, and the UL7M insulated me nicely from the ground.
I am not exactly small, I weigh 15 stone, 5’11’’ tall and am fairly broad (I shall stop there before it turns into a MatchDotCom profile and Mrs. TentLife requests that I use the Synmat and Cobra tent on a permanent basis). However, this mats medium length and standard width (you can get it in LW, Long Wide) was perfectly adequate and I had no problems rolling off it or feeling restricted for space.
Also, as we were in our smaller Coleman tent, I don’t think we would have fitted anything else in next to Mrs Tentlifes Megamat.
A Backpackers friend.
This sleeping mat folds/rolls away easily and comes with it’s own protective sleeve. It packs away really small, only 10 inches in length (never thought I’d say that) and lightweight too.
The weight and size of the UL7M make it an ideal little comfort provider for stowing away in your rucksack/backpack.
What is a Schnozzel PumpBag?
It’s what is provided with the sleeping mat, to be used to inflate it instead of blowing into it.
It was pretty quick to inflate using the provided Schnozzel pumpbag, we will do a video on it and add the youtube link here.
You are supposed to use the Schnozzel pumpbag to inflate your sleep mat instead of blowing directly into it as the moisture in your breath can remain trapped inside the sleeping bag and has been known to cause damage to the filling fibres and valves, thus shortening the mats working life. However, this 2017 Synmat and future Exped sleep mats have been further improved so that this isn’t so much of an issue. However, the Pumpbag is faster and who wouldn’t want to own something called a Schnozzel.
What about cheaper alternatives?
I have a shed full of cheap SIMS (self inflating mattresses), I do really (there are 3 in there, I keep meaning to throw them away). They don’t last long, before you know it they deflate regularly during the night and you are left lying on an uncomfortable pancake (not that they were ever that comfortable in the first place).
When I tested the UL7M, it did didn’t loose any air at all over the 2 nights I used it. I didn’t have to put any extra air into it, just pumped it up when we arrived and let it down when we were leaving.
Now although I only tested the UL7M for two nights, I can honestly say that it was a very thorough test as far as traffic was concerned. Nothing to do with anything romantic, more to do with the fact we had a puppy dog with us and I have a bladder the size of a thimble. One or the other of us was walking over the mat to go to the toilet or getting out to cook, get something I had forgotten from the car, you get the gist. Needless to say, the sleep mat had to endure lots of on/off and walking over traffic, and it survived it all without a hitch.
For your peace of mind i thought I would mention that all EXPED Synmats in the UL range come with a 2 year warranty so you don’t have to worry about them lasting a long time. The other mats and kit in the EXPED range carry an even longer warranty of 5 years, so they are confident that their kit will last a long time in the field.
Is it worth the money?
I say a resounding yes. It’s been tough, comfortable, reliable and warm. It also looks like it will last a long time (if looked after properly) and provide many years of service.
Just in case I do ever get thrown out by Mrs TentLife (probably for snoring), I always make sure I know exactly where my Synmat is stored so I can grab it before I skulk out the door.